The butcher, the baker, the bicycle maker Clarendon Street 1855–2006 The beginning of South Melbourne’s development was marked by two key events in 1851: the separation of the Colony of Victoria from New South Wales and the discovery of gold. Land was needed to accommodate Melbourne’s sudden population boom caused by the Gold Rush. Surveyor–General Robert Hoddle turned his focus to South Melbourne and the first 67 allotments of the 1852 subdivision were auctioned on 18 August. From the beginning of settlement at Emerald Hill, Clarendon Street emerged as the main shopping thoroughfare. Until the 1930s residents could satisfy all their requirements locally through goods available in the emporiums, clothing stores, newsagents, dairies, numerous banks and building societies. There were often several similar businesses located along the street at any given time. The number of grocery shops and fruiterers in 1871, for instance, totalled fifteen. Clarendon Street was of great importance to the local community. Working class residents were inclined to shop locally in contrast to the wealthier citizens who shopped in Melbourne. The area boomed in the 1870s and 1880s as a suburb fuelled by heavy industry. For many manufacturers South Melbourne held numerous advantages. It was centrally located and convenient to wharves and the railroad. The production of furniture and household items increased markedly and there were several large warehouse establishments along Clarendon Street by 1890, including Maples, Tye & Co and Tyson’s. By 1890 a cable tram connected Clarendon Street to the city and the framework of the suburb was largely in place. Over the years the street has seen numerous changes. Unemployment during the 1890s Depression caused many factory employees to leave the suburb in search of work. After the great 1930s Depression, South Melbourne never quite returned to its time as an inner city industrial suburb. In the late twentieth century, however, Clarendon Street slowly emerged as an enclave of increasingly diverse business as well as a residential and entertainment district.
A history of Clarendon Street, South Melbourne